Archive for the ‘bio’ Category

Games, part 2: The arcade

Monday, January 21st, 2013

SpaceInvaders-GameplayPart 1 is here.

I’m proud to say that Space Invaders was the first arcade game I ever played, and I was great at it, though I was only ten when it came out. Again, its simplicity was its strength. You’re running back and forth at the bottom of the screen and the aliens are marching down toward you, slowly at first, then faster and faster as you kill more and more of them. You must shoot them before they reach you, and you must not let them shoot you first. It had very effective game sounds with a Jaws-like simple “tune” as the aliens marched relentlessly closer and closer, faster and faster. Not bad at all for 1978. There was one in the game room of the resort we went to one summer, and I would get a stack of quarters from my dad for Space Invaders and bottles of Pepsi Light from the machine, and play for hours. Good times.


If hell is other people, what is heaven?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

smiley-face buttonMy cousin sent me a special gift for Christmas. I just got it yesterday.

It’s a smiley-face mug, because she says my mother loved the whole smiley-face thing, and a three page letter. Two paragraphs are about how much she loved my mother, and a couple of memories of her, including one in which she swears my mother, in a hospital miles away, whispered “good-bye” to her at the moment she died.

The rest is about how my cousin got “saved.” All you have to do is admit that you’re unworthy, that nothing you can do can ever make you worthy, and that Jesus is the only truth; and you get to go to heaven where “every desire will be fulfilled.” She doesn’t want to get there, see (and she knows, of course, that she’s going to heaven), and have my mother say, “Where’s my daughter? Didn’t you tell her?”

Because otherwise I’d be completely unaware of the whole Jesus thing, I suppose.


Games, part 1: Childhood

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013


I was a child in the 1970s, so the games I played are sort of the classic Gen X American middle class board games. From Candy Land to Monopoly, if my family didn’t have it, someone on the block usually did.

Roll the dice, move your piece, obey the rules or break them. What is a game, and what separates a “game” from just “play”? I would say that a game is inventive play, with rules of varying complexity and rigidity. Often there is an object or a definitive endpoint. You reach “home,” you win all your opponent’s pieces or money, you kill the aliens. Or you don’t, and you lose, or you “die.” Lots of people have written lots of words about games, so let me go ask the internets for an official definition. BRB.

“A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool.”

That’s from Wikipedia. I like the broad definition. I also like how the article distinguishes games from work and art, and then says the lines between them are sometimes blurred.


Who do you want to be today?

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve had an epiphany. I’m going back to school for Environmental Studies, and I want to be involved in sustainability planning for communities. Ta da!

Only took me twenty years to figure that out. I’ve never been particularly interested in anything specific as a job, except writing novels. And I certainly don’t give a crap about a career just for the sake of a career. Associate manager to manager to senior manager to associate director to director to senior director – who cares? Do any of those people actually enjoy what they do every day?


New York story

Friday, January 15th, 2010

My friend S. and I waited in line for over an hour last night for a free screening of The Book of Eli (very good, neat twist, God-y but in the best way possible) and the free tickets ran out just ahead of us.

So S. and I go into the cinema to see if there was anything else playing – the smell of popcorn was that tantalizing – but there’s nothing at the right time, and I’m ready to leave. S. eyes the staircase. “Let’s just go up here for a minute,” she says.

I’d never been to this theater before, but she’d been here lots of times, born and raised in the city. At the top of the stairs is a ticket-taker, so I hesitate. Nearby is another cinema worker, chatting on the phone. “Bathroom?” S. says, and the woman gestures. We walk right in.

Who knew you could do that?

I’m giddy, having snuck into the movies – I feel like a little kid as we’re walking down the main drag, past the popcorn concessions (gotta get some), past theater after theater. I’m trying to figure out what we’re going to see. S. is just heading for the bathroom – she really did have to go.

And suddenly we’re in the doorway of a movie, I can’t tell which one, but I have my suspicions as there are security guards and a guy waving a wand-style metal detector. S. is walking so purposefully, he assumes she belongs there. “You were here before, right?” he says, and waves her in. I ride her wake, trying not to screech with joy.

We’re in. And The Book of Eli is just starting.

We had to stand, but it’s just under 2 hours and we both work on our feet all day at the bookstore, so no sweat (my feet are much better these days).

Later she told me how she and a friend happened to walk past a theater downtown showing a premier of some big movie, and all the stars were there. She and her friend just walked right in. Saw the movie, saw the stars.

New York!

Resolving my father issues

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

St.-George-and-the-Dragon-statue-etchingMy stepmother died last Friday. No condolences are needed; there was no love between us. I hadn’t spoken to her in years. I do feel for her family – she had children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren, who all loved her very much – and of course for my father. They were everything to each other, and did everything together. He’s in his late seventies, and now he’s alone. I know this has hit him hard.

I flew to the Midwest last Sunday, not wanting to go but unable to get out of it, and as it turns out I’m glad I did. In grief, a person will say things they wouldn’t say at any other time. We don’t really talk about anything in my family – at least, we never have before. (more…)

Motherless day

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

white-carnation1One of my earliest memories, one of my only memories of my mother, and the sweetest memory I have:

I am four years old. My mother and my aunt are in the kitchen, talking grownup talk. I am playing with my younger cousin, John, who is still in diapers. He is throwing a ball down the basement stairs, and I am running down and fetching it, like a dog, over and over.

It’s fun. I’m out of breath. Our basement is scary, but safe because the stairs lead off of the kitchen, where my mother and my aunt are talking, and I can hear their voices. I’m thumping all the way down, thumping all the way back up. The carpet on the stairs is thin, like felt, over the wooden steps. We all had bruises on our shins, all the time we lived in that house, from those stairs.

And they’re slippery. My cousin laughs and throws the ball. I run after it, and halfway down I slip and fall, and bump my head.


Too much information

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

black-gloves-59941_7751_optIs there any such thing, in a blog? I suppose it depends on what kind of blog we’re talking about.

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of blog I want this to be. I’ve just spent the better part of the past week reading a friend’s blog, completely unable to stop reading the next entry, and the next entry, and the next… She’s having a very interesting life, is brutally honest, and knows how to tell a story – the best combination in the world. And I got to thinking, I need to tell more of those kinds of stories here. (more…)

Concern, not alarm

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

photo by scol22My hypochondria is flaring up.

Every morning I turn on New York One, the NYC news channel, just to make sure the world is still there. I get online and check Facebook, my favorite blogs, and the major news headlines. So I heard about the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico early last week, and I felt a little tickle in my throat.

The next day I heard there were a few cases in Texas and California. Slight headache.

And on Friday, I turned on the tv to learn that a bunch of high school students in Queens – some of whom had just been to Mexico – had all gone home with the flu. Like, 75 of them.

I sneezed.


My “go” bag

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Like I'm really gonna get out of here alive. (But what if I do?)

Like I'm really gonna get out of here alive. (But what if I do?)

Living in New York definitely brings home the idea of the impending apocalypse. Any subway at rush hour reminds me that disaster is just one panic away. We handle ourselves well here when disaster happens, and I’m glad to be in the city, but obviously 8 million people can’t just carry on as usual if there’s no electricity, or an epidemic, or a “dirty” bomb, or catastrophic economic collapse. I probably won’t survive such an eventuality, but in case I do, I want to be ready. I have extra water stored, and some stockpiled food. And I have a “go” bag.